WHO says delta Covid variant remains priority despite omicron concerns – .

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WHO says delta Covid variant remains priority despite omicron concerns – .


The world is on high alert due to the new omicron Covid strain – but delta is still responsible for most of the world’s current infections, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
“More than 99% of cases worldwide are due to the delta variant and more deaths are among the unvaccinated,” WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday. . “I think this is our priority while we wait to learn more about [the omicron] variant. “

Last week, the World Health Agency recognized the omicron variant, first called lineage B.1.1.529, as a variant of concern. This means he could be more contagious, more virulent, or more adept at evading public health measures, vaccines and therapies. The strain was first identified by South African scientists.

Delta, on the other hand, was first detected in India.

Why Are Health Experts Worried?

Health experts are concerned about the transmissibility of the omicron variant given its unusual constellation of mutations and its profile that differs from previous worrying variants.

It is really important that anyone who has not yet been vaccinated or who has only received one dose receive a full vaccine.

Soumya Swaminathan

Chief Scientist, World Health Organization

“The profile of the mutations strongly suggests that it is going to have a transmissibility advantage and that it might escape the immune protection you would get, for example, from a monoclonal antibody or from convalescent serum after a person was infected, and possibly even against some of the antibodies induced by the vaccine, “Dr. Anthony Fauci, US infectious disease expert, told NBC’s” Meet the Press “on Sunday.

“So that’s not necessarily what’s going to happen, but it’s a strong indication that we really need to prepare for it,” Fauci added.

WHO’s Swaminathan told CNBC scientists needed time to conduct experiments and collect data that would help them answer some of the fundamental questions surrounding the new variant.

“What we would like to know is if this variant is more transmissible, even more than delta?” We would like to know if there is a different clinical pattern, is it less severe, more severe when it causes the disease? She said, adding, “And third, and very importantly, is this variant able to escape immune responses either after natural infection or after vaccinations.” “

She also called on countries where the omicron variant has been detected to share their clinical data and genome sequence data through WHO platforms for scientists to study.

How fast does the variant spread?

The omicron variant has now been detected in several locations including the UK, Israel, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia. Many countries have tightened restrictions on travel from southern Africa to try to contain the spread of the new strain.

Covid vaccine makers Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have said they are investigating and testing the omicron variant.

WHO’s Swaminathan said for now it’s safe to assume that existing vaccines will provide some, if not complete protection against the new strain.

“It is really important that everyone who is still not vaccinated or who has only received one dose get a full vaccine,” she said.

“I think we still have a large number of people around the world who haven’t had their first round of vaccines and we also know that right now it is the delta variant that is the main cause of the pandemic. in the world, ”Swaminathan added.

Information compiled by Our World In Data showed that approximately 43% of the world’s population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. But only a small percentage of the population in low-income countries has received at least one dose.

The WHO has repeatedly criticized the global inequity of vaccines, as most injections have been given in rich or middle-income countries, including booster doses.

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